Book 8 – Element
Chapter 18 – Old Rivals Reunited
It was no longer the meager power of the second realm, but a force to be reckoned with, a threat to even Martial Mortals!
“Oh, apparently I shouldn’t have abstained from using my Soul Sense. Then again, if I used it, the impact of this surprise would have been abortive”. Smiling, Zax held his hands upfront, reached out and grabbed the invisible scythe and mace.
Encompassed by a cohesive invisible energy, one man and one women moving in unison, bonded by a Companion's Link formation!
“You two have gotten stronger”. Zax complimented. “But against the person I am now… even augmented by this formation, your chances cannot even be described as slimmer, in comparison to what they had been last time!”
Channeling dark attribute energy, Zax’s fingers dug into the invisible energy weapons and with a dim “BANG” crushed them.
The two retreated. Jumping to the rooftop of the adjacent building and staring down, “We had yet to reveal the full extent of our power”. They voiced simultaneously with a tad of unwillingness due to the loss.
“Zechariah, Linor”. Zax’s smile grew.
“Wait, you know this guy?” The giant man interrupted the reunion of old rivals and acquaintances.
“Yes”, the two restrained their mystification as to why Zax appeared here, now, so strong, when he was thought to be dead! “A fellow indigenous of New Earth”. It was Zechariah doing the wording, but Linor’s voice resonated all the same.
“Is it true?” The four were deeply shaken. “How come we haven’t heard about him?” The duel pistols, Duthur, wanted to know why they kept in the dark instead of being told about a possible allay and a one so strong, at that.
“You did hear”. Zechariah, Linor. “His name is ‘Zax Zel’”.
“Zax Zel? The supposed runner up of our generation’s Martial competition? Wasn’t he declared deceased by the Elder Master?” The barehanded woman asked.
“Wait a moment”. Zax suddenly said, intending to renew the conversation with Zechariah and Linor after retrieving the Black Core from the Blue Stone.
“You can’t intrude on this house”. Zechariah and Linor in a flicker moved from the rooftop to the apartment, in front of Zax, their aura not entirely hostile but also not submissive.
“This formation… Are you and the other four, and maybe that woman’s husband, too, are members of Sinister Chain?”
Zechariah’s and Linor’s brows creased. First he rises from the dead, and then he recognizes the organization they are in based on their formation? ‘Could it be that he faked his death, to hide the fact he joined the five powers?‘
In truth, they recognized him the instant the defensive formation was utilized and they probed the scene with their Soul Senses. They were in immense shock and wanted to confirm that he is who he looks like immediately. They asked the four to investigate first, assuring them that they will show up in case they will not be able to handle the opponent and convincing them that this is an opportunity to familiarize with each other so in the future mastering the Companion's Link formation would be easier. However, as the notion that he might be a traitor occurred, along with the identity of the woman’s husband he mentioned and they are familiar with, their resolution to first get answers escalated.
“This house is of limits, even to you, Zax. If there is a reason you must get in, then you first have to shed light over some of the questions we have”. Zechariah and Linor gave an ultimatum. Wary of the worse and how strong Zax has become, they maintained the formation.
“Fine, I also have things I’d like to know, but first I will finish my business here”. He was disinterested in prolonging the argument.
His figure was there and then it was not. Keeping up with it was futile.
Zax returned to the nursery and approached the barrier defensive formation. The woman within was a mere Earth’s Core Holder, for here couple of seconds gone by since the activation of the formation, but for him it could have been hours. As of now she stood still, frozen in his time.
Five fingers penetrated the formation like sharp claws. Zax drew his hand and ripped the barrier. The floor quaked, the yellow gold shade began to collapse and fade.
“Don’t touch her”. They were Peak Core Masters, but the Companion's Link formation enhanced their perception, made them faster and stronger as it did Rockwell and Riv. However they were still much slower than Zax.
Despite it being liquefied, his was Qi was poor, meant to be cultivated the day he will obtain the full Legacy Of The One’s Path. As unique as it constantly been, his soul had yet attained the third realm’s capabilities of performing feats such as telekinesis. Thus, Zax extended his reach with the dark attribute energy, grasping with it and taking the Blue Stone from the young woman’s blouse.
“See? I didn’t hurt her or the baby”. Zax raised his hands in surrender. With the Black Core being a Blue Stone distance away, he was in a wonderful mood.
“Eh? It’s gone”. The young woman cried as they all returned to communicate at the same flow. “The formation!” Her voice turned high pitched from fright and the baby boy in her arms started crying by the approximate loudness.
“Settle down, Savir”.
“Mister Zechariah, Miss Linor, you arrived! Where is everybody else?” One moment they show up, the next vanished together with the intruder – now thief – following by the reappearance of the intruder and two of the six familiar faces left in the city to protect them in case of an emergency.
“He stole it, please take it back”, without hesitation the young woman, Savir, beseeched. “Yurnal said that it’s for Yimin, when he will grow up!”
“No, it’s mine”. Zax corrected her. “Zechariah, Linor, it seems that you are unaware of what she’s taking about. Let me tell you, it’s not something that belongs to anyone, but me. Regardless who’s the owner of this Blue Stone; I will return it, however not before taking the object inside”.
“Zax, it’s you who don’t understand. Keep the Blue Stone, but don’t break the soul imprint on it just yet. First let’s talk and then, after both sides get a little bit smarter, decide what to do”. They were relieved that he was true to his words of not posing harm to Savir and Yimin, but they also had no idea what was kept inside the Blue Stone and what will be his… Yurnal’s response should he know that it was stolen.
Feeling the Blue Stone wrapped by his palm, “I can manage to wait”. He was reluctant, yet complied since he could feel that the two were earnest with him.
“Thank you”. They said, though it was obvious that Zechariah was the one leading the conversation. His and Linor’s different backgrounds hinder the synchronization of their formation, it was actually the last hurdle before they will completely master it, but it also allowed them to compose a more competent whole.
“I’ll take Savir and Yimin to the hotel. There are too many Soul Senses concentrating on the building right now and the Golden Desert Fort’s guards will soon arrive here, too”. Lenrah offered.
“I’ll go with them”. Duthur appeared determined to accompany the three, or more precisely, Lenrah.
The confrontation took place in the span of seconds and with much consideration of the neighboring and dining population.
Guests in the ground floor restaurant were only susceptive to a small portion of the booms, but they associated the noise to the liveliness of this desert city.
Cultivators in the Peak of the first realm and stronger did realize that an altercation occurring and where. The weaker expert proceeded with their day, knew that even if the interfere they will only get in trouble once the guards arrive. The stronger ones cautiously assessed why the commission, if any of them felt driven by curiosity to show up in person in the uncommon place for a strong defensive formation to manifest, they were still weighting the pros and cons of getting involve.
Ahead were Zechariah and Linor. Since last he saw them, Zax discovered that separately their cultivation reached, and so fast, to the Peak of the second realm. He also noticed that the other two, behind him, were not acting as if they take orders from the leading two and in moment of disagreement would even disobey them.
‘All of them have the same cultivation and are in pairs?’ He was not a hundred percent certain. ‘Are they complying with Zechariah and Linor because they can erect this formation or someone told them to?’
Zechariah and Linor took Zax to an underground bar named “Gordy’s Grotto”. Inside was very spacious, yet cold and murky. On the bright side, the middle aged hostess was very nice; found them a fitting table with an extra open chair, since there was no table for five.
Despite most tables taken by men, women and humanoid beasts, the bar was so silence a person could hear is own heartbeats. The reason was the sounds blocking formations etched at the opposite side of each table. They had some additional minor functions, but overall were not an elaborate formations, so not much was required to bypass them with Soul Sense, but for common courtesy or maybe some other reason, no one attempted to do so.
Basically, here experts could converged and discuss on any matter without prying ear and if they were interested in something to eat or drink, all they had to do was raise their hands.
“You drink?” The giant man,”Havreim” or “Giant Havreim”, Zax learned along the way, asked in a manner that either was offering the glass of dark beer in his hands or holding it in a semi drinking motion. The black haired, barehanded woman, by the way, was Varinka.
“Rarely”. Zax said amiably. The big fellow was the first to treat him, the supposed invite. His answer, however, seemed to be the cause for Giant Havreim disagreeably snort and his change of generous heart.
“Ignore him. Giant Havreim is just a drunkhead and a foodie”. Varinka slapped Havreim on the back, making him suffocate and cough.
“How did you know that we are Sinister Chain’s members?” It was Linor who asked, but Zechariah voiced nonetheless as they continue to maintain the formation, siting side by side.
“I met another pair, Rockwell and Riv, who claimed to be from the same organization and used this formation, though even individually they were much stronger than you two and their compatibility much better”. Zax was projecting the same level of bluntness. “My turn, when did you left to Ercas Mir? I thought that you were drawn from the competition, losing that opportunity to join the five powers as I did”.
”When you were approached by Supreme- senior Ariel, we were visited by senior Trey. She tasked us with joining Sinister Chain. Couple of weeks after the competition someone assaulted the Curators, allowing us a chance to leave without being noticed”. Zechariah chose the words. “This should count for at least two answers. How are you alive?” He first wanted an answer and then to move on to the following question.
“I guess you were informed by senior Ariel that I died…” It was not hard for Zax to figure. “I never did, simply removed the Curator’s Marks to make it look like it”.
“Removed the Curator’s Mark?” Varinka displayed the same skepticism that was plastered on Zechariah’s and Linor’s faces.
“Do you possess communicator? Able to speak with Rockwell or Riv? They can validate my skill, if you still have doubts”.
“No”. Zechariah and Linor shook their heads. He was able to suppress them as if he was the Elder Master. “We don’t. How did you get so strong?” Either of them and even Varinka and Giant Havreim could pick a multitude of better question to ask, but he was of the same generation, moreover they knew that he was sent on a later date to traverse alone and without guidance the world above ground. Logically, he should still be vigilantly wondering now in the forests of Selivereb, not showing up in the Eastern Continent and making their rigorous training of the past year or so look like a joke.
Zax smiled. A young waiter served him a jug of beer and placed on the table a tray of crispy and spicy dried fruit. “There is more than one factor in play, but the main one… What do you know about Rockwell’s and Riv’s trip to the Western Continent?”
“It’s our turn to ask question”. Giant Havreim grunted.
“We don’t know what their job in the Western Continent was, but we know that they returned because of the Event in Demirva Ridge and the dark attribute’s essence they obtained”.
Zax’s smile revealed his white teeth and at that moment, following by a drop of a large glass, beer spilling on the wooden panels of the floor and the shriek of someone biting her tongue, Zechariah’s and Linor’s eyes opened wide.